Saturday, February 25, 2012

Rumination ruins Happiness

Can we hope to gather flowers & be ridden of thorns if we water a cactus & let the flowering plants wither?Of course not !But this is precisely what we often do."We water the seeds of our own suffering"(Thich Nhat Hanh).This cactus is nothing else but rumination--repetitive thinking of negative thoughts.Consider this-the human brain produces approximately 70000 thoughts on an average day http://www.brainhealthandpuzzles.com/fun_facts_about_the_brain.html .If a majority of our thoughts are bitter,can we hope to shake off depression?The worst thing is,that once this cycle is established, it becomes difficult to break it off.However if we take care of the small things we CAN do it,says rick hanson.

ILL EFFECTS OF RUMINATION
These are many & far-reaching.Let us take them one by one.


1) Mind--When we brood over real or imagined slights,injustices,betrayals,failures & frustrations we enter a stage of mild depression.If we do not take adequate steps to get out of this rut,then rumination is further entrenched & depression aggravated.As a result we become tense,moody,sullen,irritable,absent-minded & asocial.Depression saps our energy & enthusiasm.We find it difficult to concentrate on anything.Our responses to situations are often irrational and biased.



Body Long periods of negative thinking take a toll on our health.An over-wrought mind,sick with worry & apprehension, makes for a tired body;susceptible to diseases.Emotional turmoil has been known to cause diseases like B.P,Angina,Stroke,Diabetes,Thyroid & skin-eruptions.The levels of  stress hormones like Adrenaline & Cortisol swell up.We feel agitated & jittery.



2) Relationships--Our gloomy moods tend to keep people at arm's length.This initiates a vicious cycle.We feel lonesome & brood some more.We become irritable & difficult to be with.This naturally tells on our relationships.As the patience of our loved ones wears thin,we may be left high & dry;cut off from those very ties which would have given us support & succor.



3) Career--That's not all.For an adult who is in service or still studying,this sort of pondering is sure to damage his career.Most people today do not have the time or inclination to make allowances for someone who is moody or preoccupied.This obsession with thoughts causes us to lose our hold on reality.It impairs our judgement.Efficiency suffers & stagnation results.A setback in career becomes a major cause for dejection,generating more worry.

GETTING RID OF RUMINATION


1) First of all,take a hard look at your thoughts.What is it precisely,which is pinching you so bad?What is it that you are not able to forget ?How did it start?Ir it the past or your present which is bothering you?If it is the past then no amount of worry can change it.


If there is a problem which you face today then you need to find a solution and take concrete steps to overcome it.This repetitive thinking is not helping you.Do not torment yourself with the worst case scenarios-they seldom happen.


2) Now look carefully at people around you. Are they all blissfully happy? Don't they have ANY troubles? How are they coping? And most important--you are not the sole target of setbacks & disappointments.No need to feel persecuted. Snap out of self-pity.



3) Start a journal.Be mindful of how much time you spend in retrospection. Every day enter how much time you wasted thus & try to bring down the numbers.Do it !



4) Make a note of the occasions when you mostly slip into your negative moods. If it is during walking then take a chatter-box friend or a young relative along with you.Little ones are so inquisitive that they will not allow you to slip into a reverie.Switching to exercise instead of walking too, will not give you any time to fret.


Many people go into a trance while reading-they turn the pages of their memory bank instead of the book.If you also have this tendency then it is best to suspend non-essential reading for the time being.

And if negative thinking assails you at bed-time,then tire yourself out with a long after dinner walk.You will automatically slip into slumber without that daily ritual of fretting & worrying.

Find out which time slot attracts gloomy thoughts in your mind. Most of us brood a lot when we have nothing to do. O.K, assign yourself an onerous task for that particular time.Ah yes!you will feel more tired than usual,but if this cures you of negative thinking then it is all for the better.

5) You can also take the help of your partner or a friendly co-worker.Request him/her to just jab you when s/he sees you going into a reverie.


6) Take up a strenuous activity on a regular basis-- something like running,swimming,gardening,spring cleaning or playing a vigorous game. As the sweat oozes out from your pores,the melancholy too, will leave you.Positive chemicals like serotonin,dopamine & endorphins will come out to make you cheerful once again.



7) Learn a new skill-something which will update your resume & augment your confidence.It will also free you from cyclic thinking by filling up your free time.Pursuing a favorite hobby will also do the trick.



8) Whenever you chit-chat with your family or friends,do not recall any melancholic events.Focus only on pleasant memories.This is even more important when you are on your own. Consciously dig up instances when good things happened to you.If you find yourself shifting to a gloomy track, immediately pinch yourself & say"that was in the past,today things are better".Even if they are NOT so much better;in this way you will save them from becoming worse.Positive Thinking actually induces positive changes.



9) Meditation,Yoga & breathing exercises also help to cool the mind.You can gain good control over your mind from all three.



10) Lastly,if you are the religious type,have faith that your God has chalked out a life plan for you which will help you to grow & evolve.Take the obstacles as challenges,which will open the gates to a better life.Even if you are not religious there is enough reason to believe that there is a just world-order.All get a mixture of good & bad times;though not in equal measures.If you have passed through some ordeals in the past, have faith that the cycle of change will usher in better prospects for you.You can also turn the habit of retrospection into good use by being aware of the pitfalls which sucked you in the past & avoiding them.




In short,rumination is harmful for all three--body,mind &soul.What has passed cannot be changed,but the present should be handled with care;so that it does not jeopardize the future.Sometimes we are so convinced of our worthlessness that we believe we deserve the worst and our behavior unconsciously attracts despondence.If this could be the cause of your rumination,take care to build up your self esteem.It is all in our own hands.We can easily turn the tide by taking positive steps to control our thoughts ,because the mind is a good servant but a bad master!

32 comments :

  1. What a wonderful explanation!

    I don't know why we take the longest to shed the negativities of life. I am no exception but I try to take a walk and not think about something negative if I am overburdened with the thought.

    I agree with you, it effects life in all possible ways.

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  2. Hi Saru,maybe we take long in shedding negativity because it has impinged so deeply on our minds...blessed are those who recapitulate happy moments instead...you will be fine don't worry.

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    1. Yeah, you are right Indu. I am fine, life has taught me its value very early in life. I purposely choose to admire its beauty. BTW, why haven't you replied to all the comments below. Busy???

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    2. Saru thanks for pointing out my lapse...it was just an oversight...be blessed & happy.

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  3. another great post and the art of living coming from you:)thanks for sharing indu

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  4. Indu, this post was very well written! I too believe in the old saying that 'A sound mind resides in a sound body':)

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  5. Thanx Rahul...i am glad you liked it .

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  6. You have very informative blog filled with lessons which will give us good life skills. People can sure benefit visiting your blog.

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    1. Farila,thanks for your appreciation.

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  7. nice post indu and very informative...thanks for sharing your views...

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  8. Welcome here,i am glad you liked it .

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  9. aah! i am such a big brooder and found this post so helpful. good you shared this with your readers Indu

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    1. Well you might be a brooder,but ultimately you come out as a very positive person through your posts...i am very happy that i was able to help you !!!!!

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  10. this is lovely.... i need to bookmark this and keep returning....thanks...

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  11. this is beautifully written, need to bookmark it and keep returning... thanks....

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  12. Thanks a lot,sm.Welcome to JEETERAHO !

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  13. v informative and well written indu !

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  14. Replies
    1. TF Welcome to jeeteraho,glad you liked it !

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    1. Srinidhi thanx for stopping by,come again.

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  16. I find that in addition to rumination, people have a tendency to develop scripts for everyday happenings that make them unhappy. Take a small issue of calling someone and having him say that he is busy and will call later. If you take it at face value there is no hurt. But the tendency is to build a script "I have become unimportant to him nowadays" and hurt yourself and, later, the other person by behaving embittered. If you HAVE to ruminate, try putting the best possible construct on what happens to you each day.

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    1. What you pointed out is responsible for a lot of unhappiness no doubt.In psychological terms it is known as personalization.

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  17. Thanks a lot Indu, for this great write!
    However, I'd like to retain some small part of rumination to motivate me to write what I write:)
    I practice meditation to rid myself of its evil impact!

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    1. Yes i know,even your pic conveys that you are a deep thinker.Thanks a lot for this comment.

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  18. It sad to see that people think very lightly about this problem, more so they don't think this a problem at all. I have seen people who are in the habit of negative thinking finding kind of sadistic pleasure from it and become sympathy seeker eventually. It may work for a while, but slowly others start avoiding them. very nice article!

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  19. Meenakshi ,for the brooder it is difficult to break the cycle-but not impossible.
    And you are so right that people do not like to associate with such people.

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Thanks for reading my post.I hope you liked it :).